A resilient, supportive, and integrated team is essential to the health of any workplace. Having that team mentality can build a dynamic in which everyone feels like their needs are met and that the work they produce pushes their goals forward.
This type of team may sound like a fantasy, but it’s entirely possible and fully within your own team’s reach. It just takes some careful listening, growing, and goal-setting.
That’s the purpose of today’s article. I’ll define what an effective team is, the many ways one can take shape, and provide some actionable steps that you and your team members can take in order to build the most effective partnership for your unique situation.
What is an Effective Team?
Most often in a workplace setting, we don’t get to choose who is on our team. We’re usually placed together based on our unique skill sets and the value we bring to the office overall.
Perhaps you’re in one of these situations. You work with a group of people, you produce good work, but maybe you all know that it’s possible to kick it up a notch. You’re hungrier for more.
An effective team is one that works well together and drives results. Oftentimes, though, the key to a successful team dynamic is a strong set of interpersonal skills, some of which may not come naturally to group members. Rather, they must be developed over time.
Key Characteristics of an Effective Team
Any relationship, whether it be at work or in your personal life, should be built on a solid foundation of open and honest communication. If team members feel stifled or like their ideas don’t matter to the success of the group, this is bound to build tension over time.
Team members should feel safe approaching each other with questions and ideas. They should feel free to put their unique personality and individual skill set behind their contributions, rather than fitting within a prescribed, “acceptable” box.
Spending time fully listening to your team members goes hand-in-hand with open communication. During team meetings or when another group member comes to speak with you, they should feel heard and understood.
This practice will help the individuals in the team feel valued and more comfortable with one another, which in turn will build open communication in the long run.
Team members should feel safe to grow as time goes on. While they may be exceptionally skilled within their field, there should also be an innate sense of wanting to know more. They should feel comfortable saying when they don’t understand something, but want to learn more about it.
If everyone on the team is on the same page about wanting to continuously grow through each experience, it can help take some of the performance anxiety off. If each person is open to developing and setting new stretch goals for efficiency, this can impact the success of the business both now and in the future.
The ability to make decisions should not fall solely on one or two people. Rather, when there is a decision to be made, every person should be able to voice their opinion and thoughts on how to proceed.
Still, a designated team leader should be the one to make a final say if team members cannot come to an agreement on the decision.
As with any relationship, tensions will arise from time to time. Your team should be prepared to handle disputes in a way that is efficient and respectful.
Each person needs to be allowed to openly present their frustrations and feel heard, and also know that it is a psychologically safe an environment where opposing views are welcome. This will more likely allow everyone to arrive at some sort of agreement and move on from the situation.
If the same dispute comes up multiple times, it may be because it wasn’t resolved fully in the first place. So, be sure to give people the opportunity to fully share their thoughts and feelings. In the end, everyone, ideally, will feel their thoughts and ideas were openly received and that a collaborative decision was made. This makes them more willing to move past the disagreement in order to work together.
Building Your Own Effective Team
Whether you’re just forming a new team or trying to encourage growth within an existing one, a key first step in building a dynamic team is to start with communication. Get everyone together and have an honest conversation about goals and expectations.
It’s important to note that these do not have to be company specific. While you all may have goals that you want to reach for the sake of the organization, be sure to set some expectations for growth and communication within the group as well.
It could be helpful to write these down and display them in a place where all team members can see them. It may even be prudent to assign members to take responsibility for ensuring that the team adheres to the expectations set.
Take an active role in building a trusting environment, and encourage others to do the same. Without trust, team members may spend more time worrying about the toxic environment they’re working in, rather than the work and well-being of the group at hand.
When your team accomplishes something, make sure to recognize it and celebrate. Recognizing your wins, big or small, will help encourage camaraderie and foster a happier, healthier work environment overall.
Putting It All Together
An effective team is not built overnight. It takes commitment and everyone pitching in in order to get results. However, as long as you’re all on the same page about where you want to go moving forward and practice the key characteristics I discussed, you’ll set yourself up for success.
If you’re interested in learning more about achieving an effective team in your own, unique business, set up a meeting with me. I will walk you through some exercises for setting and achieving goals that will build up your team and your organization.